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Defensive Reserves


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Reserves can be useful when defending for counterattacking an enemy success, but how do you move your reserves in the face of superior firepower? Unless you have a shielded lateral movement area behind your MLR formed by woods or hills, which is unlikely, how can you move a reserve platoon from its hiding place to where its needed without the movement being interdicted by enemy overwatch? Maybe you could have reserves which don't actually go to the threatened area by moving but instead occupy a central positon and remain hidden until needed, then attack with their guns instead of with their feet. What works best in your experience?

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What works best is to figure out where the reserves need to go before the enemy gets close enough to fully interdict the movement. That is what your scouting line is supposed to accomplish for you.

Another choice would be to not take the enemy assault head-on, but rather try to counterattack by hitting it in the flank or rear.

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The central hidden location is an interesting idea, but I'm not sure how effective it would be. If they were able to open fire earlier, why not have them do so? You're almost always better off applying twice the firepower once than you are applying half the firepower twice. Concentrated fire will break the attackers faster and multiple firing bases will mrean more flanking shots.

One thing to consider about reserves, they don't always need to come from the rear. Even if you have a fairly forward defence, the attack almost never falls over your whole line, at least not in force. Forward units that don't catch the main thrust are now freed up to react. They can move to the center or flank to support other defenders, or even more forward to attempt to flank the main thrust.

Additionally, you may want to leave your reserves in the rear but behind the defenders caught up in the main attack. Let the initial position be overrun, but have your reserves waiting behind it. Combine this with using less impacted defenders for flank attacks and you can pull the attacker into a 'bag' where you can cut him up pretty badly.

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I agree with the concentration of force point you made about my central fire reserve idea. However, I still think that while the main thrust of the attacker will be in one place, the attacker can still bring fire almost anywhere in the forward section of the defensive zone. Since it takes much less FP to stop moving troops than to dig defenders out of foxholes in woods, this pretty much precludes any movement of reserves in the forward area (i.e. withdrawing unengaged forward defenders or moving up to flank an attack. The idea of starting with the flanking units already hidden in place and letting the attacker enter the "bag" seems more likely to succeed. The downside is that this requires accurate guessing as to the enemy's main area of effort during the setup phase, which can screw up your defense if you miscalculate.

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Reserves only work if they can move to their contact area outside enemy fire.

If the map is devided by LOS lines cutting the rear section, you need multiple reserves. If the map doesn't allow covered reserves movement you are in for a boring game.

You cannot rely on the first line keeping the fire lanes open by suppressing the attacker's overwatch. If they can do that you don't need a reserve in first place.

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Tigrii,

Like Redwolf, I'm puzzled by your claim that it's "unikely" for the defender to have "a shielded lateral movement area behind your MLR." I pretty much always have such an area (or areas) and construct my MLR in such a way to be sure I have it.

Sometimes it comes from trees, sometimes hills, sometimes buildings (or often a combination of the three) but one test of the positioning of an MLR is that it provide for that shielded lateral movement in the rear area, along with covered lines along which reinforcements can move forward and attacked units can retreat.

Covered lines of communication with the rear may be hard to create in the desert (though even there you might have dunes, etc.) but they should be available anywhere else. It's hard for me to imagine conducitng a defense without such covered lines of communication.

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OK, I see the problem here. I made the mistake of taking the type of map I usually play on (open, fairly small hills) and applying conclusions from fights on these maps to ALL maps. If you have a more average map you should be able to move your reserves around more easily. With the open map it doesn't really work on a large scale, but even in open desert you still have limited safe zones behind hills or whatever. Shifting a platoon from an unattacked position to a new, nearby position is different from what I had in mind, which is having a reserve that can be moved anywhere on your MLR from a central position in the rear. This just won't work with an open map.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Tigrii,

Everyone has made very good points. One other thing if you are lacking covered reinforcement routes--you can use smoke to conceal movement just like an attacker would. Often your antagonist will use just a few units (often MGs) to pin down a large segment of your line and a few mortar smoke shells can effectively blind him.

Having played a lot of games--one other point I would make is that too many players try to defend ALL flags which necessitates having a reserve to deal with threatened & weakly held flags. Often, I will cede flags to the enemy and try to establish a continuous MLR and a defense with some depth. You can also refuse your flank to the enemy and really shorten your line while also having a reserve (the flank defenders) who can move to the forward part of your line if it is breaking. An attack on your flank can be defended the same way (move forward deployed units to the flank). The idea is to form a right angle or a horseshoe shaped hedgehog with your army (just don't bunch up too much or heavy arty can slam you).

Having positions that mutually support one another reduces the need for a reserve and reduces the distance a reserve must move if you have one.

The other thing that I would say is that too many players (including myself) wait too long before committing their reserves and this can cause casualties when the reserve is deployed. I am always worried that I am facing a demonstration by a horde of halfsquads and the real attack will come later on a different part of my line. In reality, your OPs almost always give you a good sense of where the main enemy attack is coming from and you should move the reserve into place soon after significant contact is made.

One QB trick (nothing new) I use is to have another CM version of the game running in the background and I "purchase" enemy units as I identify them in the game. Then I have a sense for how much of my opponent's force I have already faced off against and how much more I might face.

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Hi Tigrii,

Everyone has made very good points. One other thing if you are lacking covered reinforcement routes--you can use smoke to conceal movement just like an attacker would. Often your antagonist will use just a few units (often MGs) to pin down a large segment of your line and a few mortar smoke shells can effectively blind him.

Having played a lot of games--one other point I would make is that too many players try to defend ALL flags which necessitates having a reserve to deal with threatened & weakly held flags. Often, I will cede flags to the enemy and try to establish a continuous MLR and a defense with some depth. You can also refuse your flank to the enemy and really shorten your line while also having a reserve (the flank defenders) who can move to the forward part of your line if it is breaking. An attack on your flank can be defended the same way (move forward deployed units to the flank). The idea is to form a right angle or a horseshoe shaped hedgehog with your army (just don't bunch up too much or heavy arty can slam you).

Having positions that mutually support one another reduces the need for a reserve and reduces the distance a reserve must move if you have one.

The other thing that I would say is that too many players (including myself) wait too long before committing their reserves and this can cause casualties when the reserve is deployed. I am always worried that I am facing a demonstration by a horde of halfsquads and the real attack will come later on a different part of my line. In reality, your OPs almost always give you a good sense of where the main enemy attack is coming from and you should move the reserve into place soon after significant contact is made.

One QB trick (nothing new) I use is to have another CM version of the game running in the background and I "purchase" enemy units as I identify them in the game. Then I have a sense for how much of my opponent's force I have already faced off against and how much more I might face.

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